Kragthorpe: Salt Lake Bees batboy makes a comeback after 50 years
Fifty years later, Glen Brady became a kid again.
That's what rubbing baseballs with mud, retrieving bats and staying long after the game to clean the players' shoes will do for you.
If that's hardly standard duty for a community college administrator and retired Air Force colonel, Brady loved it.
"I'm having a blast, man," the 65-year-old Brady said after the second inning Friday night, taking a break in the Smith's Ballpark tunnel.
Brady wrote to Steve Miller, president of Miller Sports Properties, asking if he could observe the 50-year anniversary of his season in a Salt Lake Bees uniform by working one more night as a batboy. To Brady's surprise, Chance Fessler, the team's director of game operations, soon called him at home in southern California to arrange a date.
The next thing he knew, it seemed like 1964.
"I remember how I felt the first time â¦ just being involved in the game," he said.
The Bees' game with El Paso marked Brady's return to the former Derks Field site. He enjoyed coming to the old park with his parents, Darrel and LeOra. And then Kurt Whitehead, a Granite Park Junior High ninth-grade classmate, mentioned the batboy opportunity to Brady, who needed little convincing to join him and Jason Phillips.
The compensation: a half-dollar a game and a half-century of memories.
Having worked for radio stations as a University of Utah student and spent much of his military career with the Armed Forces Radio and Television Services, Brady is a good storyteller. He loves how baseball functions without a scoreboard clock, and treasures the game's culture.
Friday morning, the plate of eggs and hash browns in front of him went untouched for the equivalent of an inning as he delivered one tale after another from the summer of '64.
Brady's season started with two exhibition games, Boston vs. the Chicago Cubs (then the Bees' parent club) and the Milwaukee Braves vs. the Bees, bringing the likes of Carl Yastrzemski and Henry Aaron to town. During the PCL season, visiting players included future major leaguers Tony Perez, Jim Wynn and Rusty Staub.
Brady's job with visiting teams usually resulted in a happier work environment than the home clubhouse, as the Bees went 58-98 that season. But there were exceptions, like the night when Salt Lake rallied for a victory and San Diego Padres manager Dave Bristol locked the door to the clubhouse and dressed down his players for a half-hour. Brady sat alone in the dugout of the dark ballpark, until the meeting ended.
Another night, Brady was changing out of his uniform in the clubhouse when Oklahoma City manager Grady Hatton launched into his players, without excusing the batboy. Being included "actually made me feel kind of good," Brady said.
Even better was the compliment from umpire Jerry Dale, who told Brady he was the best batboy in the PCL. "When you're making 50 cents a game, man, that means something," Brady said.
Brady moved on from batboy duties after that season, finding more lucrative teenage jobs such as receiving clerk for Arnold Machinery and cashier at Auerbach's department store.
He never lost the love of baseball that the '64 Bees nurtured, latching onto the modern-day San Diego Padres and making regular visits to the back fields of spring training venues in Arizona, where the minor-leaguers learn fundamentals.
Brady will retire from Riverside Community College next June. He plans to serve an LDS Church mission with his wife, Cheryl, and then move to northern California. Brady wants to volunteer at a museum and ask the PCL's Sacramento River Cats if they have any job for him. After Friday's experience, he can update his credentials.
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